I’m having a panic moment.

I’m having a panic moment.

I’m having a panic moment. How do you guys keep track of everything happening in your campaign, between you own ideas and all the stuff the players come up with?

Since last night, my Keep on the Borderlands 1983 game has a Spelljammer connection (the heroes accidentally opened a portal and a spelljamming ship crashed through it). That’s on top of an Underdark megacorp rebuilding the keep, the Cult of Evil Chaos doing chaotic-evil things, an unknown party looking for a mysterious wizard that the paladin devoured while in wererat form, the monster tribes in the caves looking for the Eye of Gruumsh, and all sorts of ancient, world threatening knowledge being unearthed from the Cave of the Unknown (aka the Bloodstone dungeon).

I should add that in maybe 20 sessions, neither of the two groups who played in this world ever set foot in the Caves of Chaos… =D

Actually I’m having a lot of fun trying to tie in all these ideas into the world. But I think I’ll silence the writer in me and stop looking for an overarching plot. If only for sanity’s sake.

18 thoughts on “I’m having a panic moment.”

  1. Oh, I forgot the whole arc about the prophetised coming of the paladin’s Nameless God and the wizard’s entanglement into angelic and demonic politics while repeatedly syphoning magical power. Which Death has ordered him to settle as part of a bargain for his life.

  2. I have a spreadsheet with tabs for Plot Threads, NPCs and Setting details.   I also offer an XP incentive to have the characters write journals.  These journals go in a com or shared document

  3. I have a folder on Google Drive to keep all my stuff, also a shared folder with the players where they can add whatever they want AND an adventure journal wich is written by the bard, so I know what the players actually remember

  4. With a setting that gonzo, I literally don’t think it matters what you keep track of. Go with what’s most interesting, and if someone calls you on an inconsistency, come up with a Xanatos-gambit-style explanation. Or even better, ask your players to explain it.

  5. You don’t have to run full-bore with everything all the time. Just keep your major ideas out in front of you and maybe a backing list of everything where you tick off things you cover in a given session, so that between sessions you can wonder how to fit in the stuff you haven’t used recently.

  6. I write down any tidbits and remember all the important stuff. 

    6 plot threads is not absurd and each individual one will have broad situations where their influence is unimportant. Maybe they’re secretive or geographically isolated. So only 1-3 will be important at a time.

  7. Eric Nieudan 

    1) Don’t forget the new Angel compendium class and the human-faced-bees / old and mysterious apiarist arc.

    2) Most of your problems are solved if they take the spelljammer ship.

    3) Due to PCs level, you should really focus on bringing denouement to 2nd class arcs to focus on the main ones (like you did yesterday with the wererat curse). Same thing when you ask questions. Choose you words to make answers leading to adding solutions, not complexity (especially with these players).

    4) Use DW equivalent of fronts and connect threats between them to make these arcs to be less numerous as they seem to be. Furthermore, players will believe it was all planned and that you are such a mastermind. Maybe, use the 5×5 matrix method, but with fronts and threats. 

    5) Use Love letters to reduce the number or simultaneous arcs to deal with.

    6) Don’t even think this group will forget anything. Ever. They love to tease you too much for this.

    7) Resist the urge of interplanar, time travel or multidimensional solutions. Yeah, I know. They will add to complexity, not solve it. 

  8. For my more sprawling campaigns, I started using TiddyWiki.  (It wasn’t too disruptive because we were playing via Skype, so I was at a computer anyways.)  I had a page/fragment for each NPC, and I had them tagged by alive or dead, faction, and likely location. Also any notes, like their current goal, or anything shocking the players told them. That made it easier to quickly get a list of all the (e.g.) Bloodlander NPCs in Keroon, or to recall who currently had the lich’s wand, or to know that last time they spoke to Ranulf they sent him to Nerbala.

  9. All good advice here, thanks. I probably should, but I don’t want to start tracking everything in spreadsheets or TW. I run Dungeon World because it’s low prep and I intend to keep it low maitenance. A couple of Drive docs (one for fronts and one for moves, C-classes and the such) is all I want to rely on.

    The problem I’ve ran into is that the fronts doc looks like a list of reminders and stakes questions (as well as questions for players, but that’s OK).

    When I look at my campaign fronts, I feel like things should happen (you know, the world is living and breathing and all that) but if I do that too many things will be happening at the same time. By the time the heroes get back to the Keep, it’ll have been destroyed (again) and rebuilt (again) and conquered by space pirates. Meanwhile, the Caves will have been turned into a theme park for Underdark tourists. (Jérôme, these are NOT part of the dangers!)

    Maybe all I need is a simplified way of running campaign fronts. Like a checklist, as suggested. With a focus on the character arcs. And make sure I ask the right questions to get a sense of what is interesting without adding too much new stuff.

    Sorry if I’m thinking out loud here – again, thanks for the feedback.

  10. The main thing I found useful was my reincorporation list.  Any time something got kicked off, I’d file it away on the reincorporation list.  Any ripples the players stir up, anyone they send on a task to report back, etc.

  11. I like the idea of a reincorporation list. It seems like a pretty simple process; write it down, reincorporate, write down consequences, reincorporate…

    Bastien Wauthoz I’ve tried mindmapping the fronts, but couldn’t make it work. How do you do it?

  12. I print out my fronts and relationship maps, then joint notes down on those or on index cards. Two days later I move any notes that trigger ideas to my digital copies on google docs. Finally before the next session we recap as a group and anything they remember I jot down because it was important to them.

    Yea a lot gets dropped, but it’s usually side line ideas. I find Keeping the fronts and the NPCs moving to achieve their desires keeps the world feeling alive and active.

  13. Cinq feuilles A4, pliées en deux et agrafées. Une page par perso pour noter ce qui lui arrive en cours de jeu et le reste des pages pour noter les idées qui fusent pendant la partie. A côté j’ai mes deux pages de fronts que je modifie entre deux séances en fonction de ce que j’ai noté sur mon “carnet”. Et c’est tout ma bonne Ginette.

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